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FEBRUARY 23, 1855.
Mr. GIDDINGS, from the Committee on Claims, made the following
The Committee on Claims, to whom was referred Senate bill 484, “ for the
relief of Gad. Humphreys,” report : That they have considered the claim for which this bill provides, and are of opinion that the claim ought not to be allowed. The Senate committee which examined the claim and reported the bill, thus state their views of the subject :
“The petitioner claims indemnity for property which he alleges was destroyed at Micanopy, in Florida, during the Indian disturbances in 1836.
"The claim has been repeatedly submitted to the examination of committees of both houses of Congress, and several reports have been made in favor of the claimant. Two bills granting relief have passed the Senate.
" It appears that Micanopy was occupied as a military post by the United States troops under the command of Colonel Pierce. When it was determined to abandon the post, Colonel Pierce ordered all property which could not be removed to be destroyed, to prevent 'its falling into the hands of the enemy.
" The committee do not admit that a simple order for destruction of property by a United States officer constitutes a sufficient foundation for a claim to indemnity.
Troops employed for the defence of private property may be withdrawn when circumstances may require it, and the withdrawal may render it certain that the property will fall into the hands of the enemy, and be lost to the owner. The withdrawal, in that case, would not sustain a claim for indemnity. Nor would an order to destroy property, necessarily abandoned under such circumstances in order to prevent its falling into the hands of the enemy, sustain such a claim; for the order, in such a case, would not be the cause of the loss.
If, however, troops of the United States are stationed at a particular point, not for the defence of person or property there, but for the general objects of the war, and in consequence of that the attacks of the enemy are drawn to that point, and it becomes necessary to abandon the post, and under such circumstances the commander orders the
destruction of private property, the committee are inclined to think that the owner ought to be compensated.
“ In accordance with this view, and in deference to the opinions of former committees, the committee ask leave to report a bill.”
This committee cannot concur in the doctrine that, “if the troops of the United States are stationed at a particular point, for the general objects of war, the owner of private property ought to be compensated, if the enemy are drawn to that point in consequence of such stationing, and the owner's property is destroyed by the order of the commander of the troops."
The United States undertakes to defend the lives and the property of its citizens by stationing troops at points deemed judicious, but does not insure such lives and property thus sought to be protected by government. If a nation fails to be able to protect the property of a citizen, it does not hold itself called upon to make good the loss sustained by such failure in its efforts to protect the citizen. In waging war, armies march, to the injury of citizens, through cultivated fields, to a point of attack-such a march is more or less devastating, and is an evil incident to war, and as such is not held to call for indemnity. Nor when, (whether in battle or skirmishing) a wall, a bridge, a wood, or a building, is destroyed, (by either party,) compensation is not made to the injured party; the loss would be a casualty of war, caused by an effort put forth by the nation to protect, (among others,) the very persons unavoidably injured by such an attempt at defence.
It is a misfortune, incident to war, that the location of troops at almost any given point attracts the enemy to that point. The injury of fields, groves, gardens, buildings, and other property, by boih contending parties, is the necessary result of a hostile collision; but neither this or other nations make compensation for the desolations which a warlike movement occasions. Severe and wide-spread as these lo ses and ravages often are, they are never ascertained, nor paid for ; no treasury could indemnify The losses caused by large defensive and aggressive armies marching through and alternately occupying an invaded country. Hence the importance of peace and security to citizens who have families and property to protect
Were the doctrine uttered by the Senate committee to prevail; were this nation to undertake, in time of war, to indemnify its citizens for the properly which they might lose, an invading enemy would find no means so efficient to disband our armies as the burning and destroying of cities, villages, farm-houses, &c., belonging to our citizens; for every outrage they committed would tend to the exhaustion of our public treasury. The destruction of the property in a single city, if paid for by the United States, would empty the national treasury and leave not a dollar with which to sustain an army and navy.
The doctrine is new, at war with precedents, and, if sanctioned and lived up to, would make it to the interest of an enemy, in any future war, to commit depredations upon the property of our citizens, and thus aggravate and multiply the horrors and desolations of war. To destroy or to seize upon and appropriate private property, is an act not allowed lo an invader by the rules of warfare recognised by civilized nations. He may, however, destroy private property which has been converted
into a means of annoyance: as, for instance, if troops of an invaded country convert a private residence into a fort, or a barrack, or a place of military deposite, the invader may, under the law of nations, rightfully and properly destroy it; and where, for the public good, a house has been converted from a private property, which has a right to protection, into a military depot, which is not entitled to protection, but rightfully may be and actually is destroyed by an invading enemy, the nation (it has been held by Congress) must make compensation for the property of which it was the direct cause of destruction. But even this is a relaxation of the rules of other nations; no other nation, it is believed, ever pay for property thus destroyed. It is certainly inexpedient, in the view of this committee, to go
further; especially when the effect would be to tempt nations that may hereafter war with us to violate the laws of war recognised by civilized nations. A rejection of the bill is therefore recommended.
APPRENTICESHIP IN COMMERCIAL MARINE.
[To accompany bill H. R. No. 529.]
FEBRUARY 23, 1955.
Mr. Fenton, from the Committee on Commerce, made the following
The Committee on Commerce, to whom were referred several petitions
of divers citizens of the United States, praying that a law may be passed providing for a system of apprenticeship in the merchant service of this country, having had the same under consideration, make the following report :
It has long been the favored policy of the United States to require the employment of American citizens, as well in the merchant service as in their vessels of war. More than forty years since, during the existence of the last war with Great Britain, the “act for the regulation of seamen on board the public and private vessels of the United States,” (approved March 3, 1813,) declared, that from and after the termination of that war, it should not be lawful to employ on board any of the public or private vessels of the United States, any person or persons except citizens of the United States, or persons of color, natives of the United States."
The requirements of this act of Congress, so far from having been complied with, have, of necessity, as it appears, been constantly disregarded. A sufficient number of seamen who are citizens of the United States cannot be found to man the vessels employed in our national commerce; but their crews are, for the most part, composed of foreigners.
The soundness of the policy which would require the employment of American citizens as seamen on board of American vessels cannot, in the opinion of your committee, be successfully disputed, and any proper measures which can be devised to promote so desirable a result deserve the favorable consideration of the national legislature.
The petitions which have been presented on this subject are not confined to any particular locality, nor do they originate with any single class of persons; they come from the various portions of our extended seaboard, from Maine to Georgia: from marine societies, chambers of commerce, merchants, ship-owners, ship-masters, underwriters, and others engaged or interested in navigation; and they specify, with clearness and accuracy, the evils which exist in the present state of affairs, and indicate the means to be adopted to remove them.
In addition to the advantages which it is believed would accrue to